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Collaborative Product Data Management

Collaborative Product Data Management

Collaborative Product Data Management (cPDM) is software that is used to manage and integrate product data into a centralized system for better tracking and enhanced collaboration among business units. cPDM software solutions help enterprises streamline manufacturing and production processes by applying a consistent set of business solutions that collaboratively provide efficient methods to manage the functions of product lifecycle management (PLM). These solutions also help organizations to boost efficient business operations and launch innovative and profitable products in the evolving e-business web-enabled environment. The cPDM software packages also help in sharing data among supply chain partners, thereby enhancing the capability, efficiency, and effectiveness of an enterprise.

PLM is a strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions to help the collaborative creation, management, and dissemination across the extended enterprise from the concept to end of life. CPDM also allows the organization to maintain system architecture, deployment of security mechanism, and prototype development and enables them in forming a collaborative architecture, shared resources and shared team spaces to work together as virtual teams.

CPDM help in effective product data management, collaborative product commerce, collaborative product visualization, effective integration of CPDM with enterprise applications and supplier relationship management. Its solutions assist in manufacturing and production processes for efficient business operations. Ultimately, it helps in bringing innovative and profitable products that enables in evolving the e business web based environment.

These software solutions are adopted by industries such as electronics, automotive, industrial machinery, aerospace, defense, petrochemical, and process packaged goods. Automotive manufactures face product recalls across wide ranging categories due to which PLM software such as CPDM, CAD, CAE and CAM help them in reducing defects which eventually help them in catering maximum demand.

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F.A.Q about Collaborative Product Data Management

What are the technologies and methods used?

Clearly, general collaborative software such as email and chat (instant messaging) is used within the CPD process. One important technology is application and desktop sharing, allowing one person to view what another person is doing on a remote machine. For CAD and product visualization applications an ‘appshare’ product that supports OpenGL graphics is required. Another common application is Data sharing via Web-based portals.

Specific to product data

With product data, an important addition is the handling of high volumes of geometry and metadata. Exactly what techniques and technology are required depends on the level of collaboration being carried out and the commonality (or lack thereof) of the partner sites’ systems.

Specific to PLM and CAx collaboration

Collaboration using PLM and CAx tools requires technology to support the needs of:

  1. People: Personnel of different disciplines and skill levels;
  2. Organizations: Organizations throughout an enterprise or extended enterprise with different rules, processes and objectives;
  3. Data: Data from different sources in different formats.

Appropriate technologies are required to support collaboration across these boundaries.


Effective PLM collaboration will typically require the participation of people who do not have high-level CAD skills. This requires improved user interfaces including tailorable user interfaces that can be tailored to the skill level and specialty of the user.

Improved visualization capabilities, especially those that provide a meaningful view of complex information such as the results of a fluid flow analysis will leverage the value of all participants in the collaboration process. Effective collaboration requires that a participant is freed from the burden of knowing the intent history typically embedded within and constricting the use of parametric models.


Community collaboration requires that companies, suppliers, and customers share information in a secure environment, ensure compliance with enterprise and regulatory rules and enforce the process management rules of the community as well as the individual organizations.


The most basic collaboration data need is the ability to operate in a MultiCAD environment. That is, however, only the beginning. Models from multiple CAD sources must be assembled into an active digital mockup allowing change and/or design in context.

Real-time collaborative product design

Product design is typically a highly iterative and interactive activity involving a group of designers who are geographically dispersed. A neutral modeling command (NMC) based method is proposed to construct a real-time collaborative product design platform within heterogeneous CAD systems.[1] Different from the visualization-based approaches, models can be constructed and modified synchronously from various sites in the proposed collaborative design environment. Based on a translation mechanism between system modeling operations (SMO) and neutral modeling commands (NMC), every operation given by a user on one site will be translated into an NMC and be sent to all the other sites through the network. When the other sites receive this command, it is converted into the corresponding SMOs on the local system. In this way, the real-time collaborative product design with heterogeneous CAD systems is achieved.

Different levels of collaboration

If the collaborating parties have the same PDM and CAD systems the task usually involves the direct access and transfer of data between sites. The PDM system will have data storage at more than one site for the large graphics files, a file may be copied between sites, how they are synchronized being controlled by the server(s). For the management server and metadata, there are a number of options. There could be a single server that is accessed from all locations or multiple PDM servers that communicate with one another. In both cases, the PDM software controls access for groups defining what data they can see and edit.

With different CAD systems, the approach varies slightly depending on whether the ownership and therefore authorship, of components changes or not. If geometry only has to be viewed then a Product visualization neutral file format (e.g.JT) can be used for tasks such as viewing, markup (redlining) or multi-cad digital mock-up (DMU). It may be that authorship does not change but components from one group need to be placed in the assembly of another group so that they can construct their parts, so-called work in context. This requires the transfer of geometry from one format to another by means of a visualization format or full data translation. Between some systems, there is the possibility of ‘data interoperability’ where geometry from one format can be associatively copied to another. If the ownership of a particular file is being transferred, then full data translation is required using some form of CAD data exchange technology. For the translation process Product Data Quality (PDQ) checkers are often employed to reduce problems in transferring the work. If different PDM/EDM systems are in use, then either data structures or metadata can be transferred using STEP or communication between databases can be achieved with tools based around XML data transfer.